tv Washington Journal CSPAN July 4, 2012 7:00am-9:15am EDT
at 8:40 a.m. john wonderlich and at 9:15, teve redisch. "washington journal" is next. ♪ ♪ host: good morning and welcome to "washington journal" this july 4, 2012, independence day. we honor america's birth as a nation. on july 2, 1776, the continental congress voted to separate from great britain and adopted the declaration of independence two days later adopted by -- drafted by thomas jefferson. today we ask you believe in american exceptional ism. here are the numbers to call --
host: what do you think? we will talk about the history of american exceptionalism and where the term comes from and whether you think it applies today. good morning, iowa, independent line. caller: happy fourth of july, 2012. >> you as well. caller: i don't believe america is exceptional. i think all people are equal and exceptional separates people and when we separate people, we start having problems with discrimination which basically americans build on a foundation
of discrimination. we are all at risk this november november if they put mitt romney in power. our society is controlled by a business, corporations, and government together over the people. we cannot have this. given the republicans better think twice before they vote for romney because their freedom is at risk also. host: detroit, michigan, democrats line. caller: there is a lot of different ways you can believe in that and not necessarily adhere to the value of american exceptionalism. where did it come from anyway? england.
our national anthem was originally written in other words. i watch the british parliament on c-span, the house of commons, and it is so similar but there is more people sitting there listening to the views expressed in the house of commons. american exceptionalism -- it came from the whole idea of being british with a whole bunch of people moving to america because they decided they wanted to practice their religion in another country. that is all i wanted to say. you can look at exceptionalism a whole bunch of ways. > host: water you doing on this fourth of july? caller: probably going over to a friend's house and watch some fireworks. host: this is a recent piece
host: why not? caller: we send a bad examples of behavior to the rest of the world. we have a lot of smart mouthed people and disrespectful people who don honor their elderly and it feels like that. i don't think we're an exceptional, no way. host: this came in on facebook -- let's hear from joyce on our independent line. caller: good morning.
i haven't been on here for quite a long time. the word exceptionalism, american exceptionalism, really turns off. puttingke we're ourselves above the rest of the human race. to me, i would think of someone as being exceptional as someone who is very spiritually- minded, a very giving, the words from matthew :25 when jesus asked the people, and did you feed my brother and sister? did you take care of them? did you visit them when they were sick? how did you treat each other? this is exceptionalism. i think it has caused this country to become a military
power and move into countries where we have no business being. iraq is not over with yet. when i listen to the senate hearings, i think they still have 12,000 or 16,000 contractors in iraq to cover 2000 people. the debt goes on. i believe in america and i believe in the people care but to be exceptional, i think you have to be a spiritual person. host: this is according to wikipedia --
ore.,go to eugene, democratic caller -- caller: i think that as a world leader has- i think the united states has a role to play in international relations. however, i do think that at this point -- i believe we are overstretched at this point in terms of warfare especially considering our role in the middle east. i think the united states definitely has a role to play but i think in terms of how we
are placing ourselves in the middle east, i think it is an overreach of our country and i think our ideas are important but i think that is a very, very trying time for our country to be stuck there. host: this is a store a from "the washington times" -- we will be talking more about the afghanistan a little bit later this morning. we're pleased to be joined by a major general will join us with an update from afghanistan, from
great country because they live off of food stamps, medicaid, free housing but if you ask a middle-class, working class people, it is a terrible country because all you are doing is paying taxes and supporting the ones who don't work. you don't have enough money to buy insurance. you make too much, they will get medicaid. don't have enough money to buy groceries but you make too much to get food stamps. if you ask rich people, it is a great country because they are blind to what the four and they are robbing the country and blind to the middle class not being able to make ends meet? host: how you feel? caller: i follow the middle class. i am struggling to pay insurance and than obama care comes out and i don't see how that will help. he makes himself look like he is helping the country but he
america has been the most exceptional and generous country. however, this administration, we are losing global respect because this administration does not respect our u.s. constitution or laws. anyone supporting this administration i feel as anti- america. it is as simple as that host: have always felt that way? we lost her. less corn to a democratic caller in lincoln, nebraska. caller: i believe in american exceptionalism. although the united states does not have much international morality, i think the military- economic responsibility gives us the ability to respond to threats overseas.
it is dangerous to be the one to decide when to wield the sword, we have been given the privilege every time. i think inaction in the face of injustice is wrong. i think america is quite an exceptional country to be able to respond to these situations. host: what you think about people not supporting this administration. -- what do you think about people not supporting this administration? caller: i think -- that's a good question, i would have to thank about that more. host: let's hear from a republican in georgia, good morning. caller: i have been calling in to see spent 30 years and you
have a great network and i'm fired up about american exceptionalism. i think we have the greatest country in the world and mitt romney will become the greatest president in the history of the country for free enterprise, capitalism, and small business and i think the future of america -- i am so fired up about mitt romney, i cannot sleep at night. i think he will be great. we need to elect a great congressman. we have a congressman in georgia who is a super-free enterprise candidate. we want eight years of mitt romney and he will be a great president. host: why do you think america is exceptional? what values make it that way? caller: may be because in america, you have the opportunity, not the guarantee, to be successful. you are a sharp lady and you have gone to your position because of your talent and skill. you had an opportunity to become an anchor and you are doing an
incredible job but you did it by hard work. anybody that wants to work hard in america can get to the top but all we have to give them is the opportunity and to keep that opportunity, we must have lower taxes, there is too much government now many to pay down the debt i am so fired up about the future of the country. wait until mitt romney is president. everybody is going to be great once we get him in the white house. host: let's ago to twitter -- here's what some of our viewers are saying on facebook --
charlestown, west virginia, independent caller -- caller: good morning. i grew up in england. i have spent more than half mile of america. when i first came to america, i was overwhelmed with the sense of the strong middle-class and democratic values were slightly lacking in england. in england, it is very much of a class consciousness, perhaps not as much anymore. i find a reverse happening in america, they're becoming more class conscious. we now have an american aristocracy based on wealth. i heard that clip from " newsroom." and i echo the sentiments. that is very sad for me for what
is happening to this country because we're part of the community of nations and that in itself should be sufficient. and an egalitarian bullet all people are created equal as in the declaration of independence. i think it has to do with spiritual values. a lady called an earlier said that exceptionalism has to do with spirituality. i find that to be an oxymoron. i believe spiritual people see the quality and the one this and all human beings and all life. to me, it has to do with one's consciousness and seeking the truth. host: let's take a listen to politicians and leaders talking about america's values and exceptionalism. we will start with president obama. >> let's get to work.
let's finish what we started. hows remind the world strong economy is built a and remind them why america is the greatest nation on earth. >> we can do better. we the people of the strongest country on earth can do better. >> i rise today because this is a great country. in fact, i would call up the greatest country in the world. >> need someone with courage and conviction and a belief in america. we love america and believe in america and we will keep it strong. >> we heard from ann romney and from sheila -- shirley jackson late, senator kay bailey hutchison, and president obama. our question for you is whether or not you believe in american exceptionalism. democrat from butler, new
jersey, good morning. caller: i really enjoy your program. host: what do you think about america's place in the world and exceptionalism? caller: i think america is a truly great country when it is true to the progress of the values -- progress of the values that we treat people fairly and everyone has dignity in our country. that is what makes this a great country and i think every person in every country of the world has the right to think they live in the greatest country in the world. we, the people, americans and people all over the globe, it is up to us to make our country a great country. that is what i believe and i agreed with the guy from west virginia and i feel very sad when i hear callers like the lady from north carolina who was talking about the poor people
living on government welfare. i am a social worker and i am familiar with the knowledge. you don't have to be a social worker to realize that everybody can be weakened independent at some point in their life. what makes this unexceptional is that we don't four people alive. people rigidhrow away. the study is mature country truly great. host: we saw a cnn peace earlier that said -- that acknowledged that america may not be the leader in some aspects whether it is education, or health care. is the third rail of american politics, they say america might not be the greatest country in the world. caller: i think it is very sad and it strikes me that it is juvenile. it is almost like little child
who have to see their mother or father has a big god-like figure because they take care of them. in the world of adults, we can learn from people of other cultures. i want to mention to the person who said obama has lost our reputation, i travelled extensively. i was in nine countries last year and every one of them, people praised obama. he is very well-respected around the world. the people so unhappy with him, it is sad that have to be some negative when we have a president -- he is only one person. he is doing his best as far as i can tell to give his dignity as people. host: let's hear from maryland, a republican caller. caller: good morning. happy birthday to our country and i think this is an exceptional country. it is based on the faith and
values that our forefathers handed down to us and whether we take that baton and carry it on, this is the longest standing constitution in the world and we have the most generous nation. there is a book out that my husband and son to read "who really cares?" and this country really does care. the country is the first with eight when the world calls out for it. - aid when the world calls out for it and our heart goes to places of refuge when disaster strikes. that is because i think this country has a strong faith-based and i believe that is what makes america exceptional. i wish everyone of very blessed holiday and we remember our
troops serving in desperate he's right now, 109 degrees. in kuwait and afghanistan. let's remember them as they serve us. host: we will be going to afghanistan in a few moments. we will talk with someone they're about how the battle is going. here's a story from "the baltimore sun." it profiles one family were the soldier was able to come home and whether or not it is a time when families can get together or whether it is a time they have to be separated because their loved one is serving overseas. the stars and will get to celebrate the fourth of july with his wife and daughter and his partner, a bomb-sniffing dog. this is a piece from " the new
passing this name around. humans have a long way to go, not just americans. people are so at the pack with the apathetic. they get a holiday and a jump around and go back to work tomorrow being slaves. i think people need to be exceptional in themselves and start to come together and said of being divided. i see a new commercial with obama and i don't support either candidate. more people have supported the ndaa and people are talking about how except now they are.
conn, independent caller, good morning. caller: good morning. i think america is an exceptional land. however, we accomplished over the years clear-cutting the eastern forests three times, almost determining the buffalo, and this exceptionalism i am hearing today is akin to calvinism where god has chosen us -- his people or whatever it is. may iu quote a native american statement? white man as much knowledge, most of the false. thank you very much. host: san jose, calif.,
democrats line. caller: thank you very much. thank you for taking my call. i believe in and american exceptionalism. i feel there are so many opportunities in this country. you face a pinnacle of so many things. in comparison to other areas -- you have the chance to get a higher education and create something for yourself. you see the struggles of the
whole world in america and you have a pretty fair chance of fighting for great things in this country. the country might be a little divided but every day, i feel we have a chance to learn how we are great. i believe an american exceptionalism because in america, every day we have the chance to make a better place and america just offers that. says onre's what jim twitter -- let's look at some stores in politics. president obama hits the trail, leading in the polls.
country, it is our country. the pride that we have in this nation should not get in the way of pragmatism. we tend to approach things in a very impractical manner. there is political fighting, there are hidden agendas and it is not certain. we all want the same thing as americans. we have a commonality of purpose which we seem to lose. too many people like corporations and foreign nations have their hands in our pockets, not just for our dollars but our technology. willis said the nation went from the fleet -- it is sad that the nation went from the fleet woods, it is staggering the growth of this nation and we have a long way to grow. we have to get our eternal --
our internal affairs in order. thank you so much. host: do you have any plans for the fourth of july? caller: i will be at a friend's house and am trying to enjoy myself despite the forecast of rain. host: what does the holiday mean to you? caller: it means too many things to elaborate. it means that i am here. i am a free person living in the united states. i think of all the sacrifices, some people have made, over the centuries to put us where we are and i think of the discord today, it is disconcerting and disheartening. c'mon people, get together, smile on your brother right now. , just like the song. host: we will take a quick break and come up later on this morning, we will speak with the president of the heritage foundation about his new book
and we will talk with the executive editor of the voice of america. ♪ ♪ >> bartoli's trip makes toqueville's trip look trivial. he talked to a wide range of people and explore the countryside and he wanted to understand what makes americans tick and he was surprised by a lot of things he saw. he read that americans or individualistic and he actually saw us as much more collectivist. it seems kind of hard for us to imagine that. he saw the united states as a group of people who like to form associations, who wanted to
always be with other people. after you went to the united states, is so the french as the individualists and the americans as more social people. from that he concluded that he was going to put up his colossal statue and it will have to say something to people who understood themselves as a big group, as a society, as a kind of collective entity. >> you can watch this whole event is part of our prime-time lineup. includes a discussion on how social media has changed news coverage and commencement speeches from newark mayor cory booker and elon musk. it all starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> we had pulled into a refill of 9:30 and had more the ship to appear in the harbor. . >> the former commanding officer
on the uss cole. i was turned back to my desk doing routine paperwork. there was a thunderous explosion. you could feel all 505 feet and 80 -- 800 tons of destroyer thrust up and to the right. it was like we seemed to hang for a second in the air and this ship was doing three-dimensional twisting in the came back in the water and lights went out and ceiling tiles popped out everything on my desk lifted up about a foot fence -- and dropped down for it i grabbed the underside of my desk until the ship stopped moving. >> more with the former commander at 8:00 on sunday on cspan's "q &a." >> "washington journal" continues. majorwe're joined now by
general david berger from helmand province in afghanistan. there is a bed of a delay if you call in. thank you for being with us, sir. what is your job? guest: i am here in helmund and my job is to command marine ground forces here in the province. there are also some georgian and as part of that and coalition forces. my role is to command the gap -- ground forces. host: we see a big story in the news today that pakistan will reopen afghan supply lines after some diplomatic work by the secretary of state. what will this mean on the ground? guest: part of what we are doing this summer is drawing down the
forces at the direction of the president. as many avenues we can open up to get current and supplies back out of afghanistan and bring in equipment and supplies needed is good for us. majorwe're talking with general david berger. you can join the conversation by calling in. tell us about the role the marines are playing in the helmund province. guest: this summer, there's a lot of change. we are shifting from a role where we were partnered with the afghan security forces, their army, to a role where we are supporting them. that means the army and the police have developed to a point where they can take the lead for
security. this summer is that transition, that shifting where they're taking the lead and planning the operations and we support them with what they need from us. less of us in front, more of them in front, and our role is to support them after the advisor teams we have in the army and the police to help them improve their own profession say. host: what does that look like on the ground? what are your troops doing and how are they working with the afghans? what does it feel like an look like? guest: i would tell you know two days are the same for the marines. each day, our role is to provide the security for the people with the security forces of of dennis stand. patrolling, talking to the people and listening to their concerns, where there are
insurgents and plans are developed jointly with afghan security forces, going to those places, and detaining them, and prosecuting them for the afghan system -- the summer time is really tough because of the sheet. the soldiers here know how to adjust for the temperatures and the climate. you see a lot more activity and the morning and more activity in the night and in the middle of that day because of the heat, is a different tempo of operations. this challenge is for the marines but they are used to this and they train for this. host: we read that the summer season intensify the fighting in afghanistan. what is that like? guest: historically, in wintertime, the senior leadership of the taliban leaves afghanistan for the most part and goes back to where they feel safe.
in the springtime and summertime, they come back into afghanistan and try to influence the people and try to regain control. it is a cycle for the past several years or each summer there is an attempt by the insurgency to increase their level of activity and try to regain parts of the country. it has not been successful. the security forces that are here understand that. the marines understand that. this year, the way to avoid that is to get in front of it. the operations from the afghan side are beginning ambit -- and by the time they come back, it makes their job more difficult. host: major general david berger is commander of the first marine division and we're talking to him on this july 4. let's hear from an independent caller from texas.
co-head and make your answer is clear as possible. we've got a tough connection. caller: i want to thank you and your guys for your service, have a good holiday. host: what does that mean for you to hear, general? what are you doing on the fourth of july? guest: i wish this microphone were in the era of ever marine working hard today. it is good for them to hear that the american public are behind them. they just worry about the american people supporting what they're doing. every marine overeager knows that today is the fourth of july and they know what that means. they have to focus on the job they have to do. at the end of the day, they may go into the shall fall and have a hamburger with mustard, but the rest of the day is all about
business. host: how confident are you that america can withdraw its troops by 2014? guest: this summer, we're executing that portion of the drawdown that the president directs. the equipment and the people that he put into this people some time ago as the surge is coming out and after this fall and summer, we will draw down in accordance with the direction he gives. the way it has gone this spring and summer has been better than we thought it might. is very complex. moving all this equipment and ammunition back in the other direction you have -- to resupply yourself is not easy. the marine corps had a great plan that had the right people here who know what to do this. so far, it has been very smoke. host: let's hear from texas on
our republican line. caller: good morning and happy fourth. i have a question. i am concerned and i wanted to ask him -- how does he feel about the apology the secretary of state clinton and our government just had with pakistan? how do you feel? look at clarify, let's a news story and see what the secretary of state said --
"the washington post"expo lens -- -- explains the mistakes were made on both sides. guest: thanks for asking the question. at the tactical level here in the province, there are portions of afghanistan by a buffer against other countries. there are detailed procedures in place when we need to operate near the border. as far as secretary clinton's comments are comments from other members of the administration or from the military -- i am glad we have the right people who have the expertise and are in the right position to deal with those countries. it makes our jobs easier so we can concentrate on what we need to do inside afghanistan.
host: an independent scholar from colorado, good morning. caller: good morning, happy fourth of july. general -- do you know the name of the last marine that died in afghanistan under your command? what would you tell his family or her family they died for? guest: i would tell his family that what he was doing here made a difference and he knew that. every marine, every soldier, every georgian soldier, every sailor the dyes 03 here is a tough loss for his unit and for his command without a doubt. i would tell you that every marine and every member of this force is very focused on the mission. they know what they're doing makes a difference. we're here to protect the people of afghanistan and to help the
afghan security forces take over that role from us. host: looking at the number of deaths in afghanistan, we are right around the 2000 mark. as of july 2. we are still seeing reports of members of the marines and army and different branches of the service being killed in afghanistan. it is not the top headlines in the paper. do you feel the u.s. is plugged into what you're doing over there and how you deal with morale of your soldiers? especially when people are killed? guest: every loss that we have is felt on multiple levels. probably in his squad or his unit first.
at the command level, it is now less difficult to handle. they are very focused and they will not have one loss be in vain for the next morning, they will get up and patrol and do their mission because they will not allow any setbacks in the mission. everyone is tough to deal with. as tough as marine units are, they are in close contact with the family and the commanders contact the family. it is not easy but it does not affect the way we operate and there is absolute confidence in the marines with the american public supporting what we do. host: this is a report from david marchant -- -- david martin. let's go to st. louis, missouri
on our democrat line. caller: good morning and happy fourth of july. with the drug or being forced down americans throw for some think its, don't you would be more of a service to america and the american people to destroy the poppy fields before we before -- before we depart afghanistan? how would you justify not doing that? guest: if you look at the last couple of years in terms of destroying the poppy fields, there has been a huge increase in that effort by the government of afghanistan. they took it on progressively especially this spring and had a detailed plan until the people ahead of time in the winter when
they were planting crops what they're going to do and in the spring, they went and did it and they plowed under feels. -- under fields. it is tough for the farmers but that's what it will take. from our perspective, the eradication led by the government of afghanistan has had an impact. combine that with interdiction efforts, stopping the movement of the drugs, the movement of the harvested poppy and opium, put those two together and it is having a huge impact. host: here is a recent story in " the new york times" --
here's a question from twitter -- what's your perspective? guest: the travel culture here is -- the tribal culture here is fastened to be part of and be in the middle of. in the past year and a half or two years since the creation of district councils, the elections that have been held at the district level and the provincial level, the people learning their way through that part of democracy. you can feel at this summer especially in areas where the people want something from the government and they feel it is not happening fast enough, they are holding their elected
officials accountable. the officials are traveling to the districts and the smaller precincts' and meeting with the elders and the people and listening to their grievances. the connection between the people and their elected officials of the district level and between the district level and the province, between the province and the nation's capital is starting to link up which is a good sign for democracy here. host: from the republican line from california -- caller: our marines should be on the u.s. border instead of wasting billions of dollars overseas. we were attacked on 9/11 and 1993 because of support for israel. you can see the various interviews. host: let's turn your call into
requesting your general -- the general can answer. do you have a sense of where your forces will go after the afghanistan drawdown? guest: whenever it is time to head back and the president will decide that, we will go to the next part of the world where we are focused. from what we read in the papers, there is some shift in attention toward the pacific but wherever i go next is where the commandant of the marine corps sends me. host: this is from twitter -- guest:nmo, i haven't heard that phrase. it does not mean it does not exist but in my traveling around and the five months we have been here, i have not heard that phrase.
in certain parts of helmand province where the u.s. and state department and u.s. aid have had an influence over decades, they have an absolute respect and admiration for what the united states has done for the people here in helmand province and afghanistan. host: 8 democratic caller from tennessee, good morning. caller: good morning, general, we appreciate your service. i know you have to do what you have to do but i think this war is as bad as the vietnam war was. i think we need to get out and i don't understand what the mission is. i think it is a tragedy that one more american dies for a situation over there that is so insolvable it is beyond anybody's believe.
host: major general david berger is with the marines, the first marine division from hellman's province. can you respond to his concerns about the usefulness of this effort? guest: yes, i can tell you that the marines and the forces -- i was before everybody -- but the forces that are here, i know for a fact the marines here in helmand province know why we're here. there's no question in the mud with their focus is. we will make sure this place that was a place where the taliban and al-qaeda felt comfortable protecting -- projecting terror across the world will not happen. that was the first job in the second job is to make sure there were not allowed back in and a third job is to hand over the security for of dennis sent to the afghan security forces.
we absolutely know what our role is, no question about it. host: mass., independent scholar, good morning. caller: good morning, i would like to ask your major aboutmaj. my son is currently in the service. he watches soldiers come and go in the air and on the crown. is it so? if so, what is being done to stop it? host: can you explain what stop losses. caller: he could probably tell you better. it was on television. it is about the soldiers that it caught up in doing two and three tours of duty. host: let's hear from the general. thguest: that is a great questi. stop loss is a term used to describe when there is a crisis
around the world and the president needs to keep on active duty service members beyond thend of their contracts because there is a crisis so directly affecting national security that he must keep people on duty and 109 allow certain wants to leave the service according to their contract. that is what stop-losses is. it is not in effect right now. stop-loss was inactive at certain points during the conflict early on when it was clear we were on the need to build the forces for iraq and afghanistan, but not in effect right now for the marine corps here. host: independent caller. caller: good morning. i want to get back to what the general just said about the afghan people holding government accountable. i think that is where we as americans have greatly failed
these troops overseas. we have not held our government accountable. they're over there on a mission that he is saying -- the soldiers feel good and the marines feel-good knowing the american people are behind the mission. what that tells us, i think things are mixed up. if you really support the troops and the mission is not a valid mission as far as american lives being spent without a congressional declaration of war, by the way, we are failing them. i believe to really support these troops is for us to get off our own real rents and hold our government accountable for what these trips are being sent all over the world. host: we will get a response.
guest: i am trying to understand a part of the question. host: i think if you could reflect on his comments, even if you do not support the mission, supporting the troops, that you can have both at the same time that americans should get involved politically to make their voices heard. guest: i can tell you from this end, the support of the american people from what the marines are doing and the soldiers, the sailors and airmen, absolutely it is critical. when you're deployed away from home, away from their own station, you need to have confidence the american public and policymakers are behind you. and that is the case. i do not think there is any doubt from our perspective over here that our people, individual citizens and our country are behind us. i understand the germans question, holding the public
officials accountable -- i understand the gentleman's question, holding the public officials accountable. when you get to that point, corruption stars to decrease, people start to have security in their elected officials and the security forces. i understand exactly what he is saying. it is applicable around the world. host: 1 final tweet -- guest: it is a challenge. right now, we just looked at the barometer before we came on the air, i think it was about 115 degrees where we are sitting. how can they do it? incredible training and incredible level of discipline, and having the right gear. the training the service members have before they come here is very tough and
challenging, and is then used to caring the gear on their back. here, everything from the water to meals and attrition and the pace at which we operate during the day, especially in the summertime, all affects how far you can push a unit in this kind of climate. i would tell you as far as you think you can push a marine unit, somehow they will go farther, the longer. it is incredible to watch them operate. but they are carrying a lot of gear. but it protects them and keeps them alive, and they know it. but it is tough, physical training and they're very disciplined marines. host: general berger, we appreciate you joining us. we spoke to him from camp leatherneck in afghanistan, commanding general of the first marine division. coming up next, we will talk
with the president of the heritage foundation edwin feulner who has a new book out called "the american spirit." later on, the anniversary of the freedom of information act. we will talk to john wonderlich. >> here are some of the latest headlines. the president celebrate the nation's 236th birthday today at the white house. he will begin in remarks at a naturalization ceremony this morning for active-duty service members and later he and the first lady host a barbeque, concert, and in view of the fireworks on the south lawn. mitt romney is taking a break from his new england vacation to march in the independence day parade in new hampshire. the obama administration is asking the supreme court to settle a legal fight over a law that denies federal benefits to married gay couples. the justice department is asking the high court to hear an appeal of lower court rulings striking down a portion of the defense of
marriage act. the earliest the justice could decide to hear the case is late september. although most americans think the economy is currently in poor shape, economic optimism has skyrocketed since last fall according to a new national poll. the new cnn international poll also indicates that while the voters are divided on whether president obama or mitt romney would to a better job on the economy, mr. romney holds an edge among independent voters in the race for the white house. finally, that powerful weekend storm that left 3 million without power from the midwest to the mid-atlantic is renewing the debate about whether to bury power lines. above ground lines are vulnerable to strong winds and falling trees. but utility companies say relocating power lines underground would cost as much as $15 million per mile and that
gets passed on to the customers. some of the latest headlines on c-span radio. >> no one paid attention to tunisia. if they did think about it, they thought it is where "star wars" was found. but protests began being planned in different countries. i started taking the techniques i used in tunisia and expanded on them and improved upon them until it got to the point where my twitter followers essential became my newsroom. rather than being in the studio as an anchor would with producers left and right and researchers and an ear piece someone is talking to to give me the latest information or a pundit here and an eye witness there, i was sitting on a park bench with my phone, having dozens of twitter followers doing all of that for me so i could essentially to anchor coverage of these revolutions and fact check into a bunch of other things coming out of it.
>> you can watch the event tonight as part of our prime- time lineup for july 4th including also discussion on the history of the statue of liberty and commence the speeches. it all starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> "washington journal" continues. host: edwin feulner is co author of a new book called "the american spirit" and president of the heritage foundation. happy fourth of july. what inspired this book for you? guest: brian tracy and i were sitting around, it depressed about some of the gloom and doom. this is an extraordinary place to be able to grow up and raise children and our grandchildren. we really ought to celebrate what america is all about,
patriotism, the rule of law, the freedom we all enjoy. so we started writing them down. we thought, maybe a book would be interesting. we frankly have some shelf life we could use for kids and grandkids for years to come. host: you talk about every american starts with a blank slate. you describe it as something at the center of the american spirit. guest: we're really the only country in the world where it does not matter who your parents were, who your grandparents were, what class you came from, what cast you came from. you can be whatever you make of yourself. it really is a blank slate. do your own thing and be what you want to be, but you have the freedom to do it here. that is what makes america so extraordinary and very special. host: talk about the privileges and advantages some have based on the type of family there are born into whether it is a family that has more money or higher
education values, a family that talks about setting goals. what about the kids that do not have that? guest: if you watch some of the tv shows that have been very popular, you will see what a real class system is like. in america, again, because of what our forbearers have done in terms of the land grant colleges that we have, opportunities for higher education whether it is a vocational training, liberal arts training -- we have these opportunities that just to not exist in other places. i know because i have studied overseas and seen it up close. we're said to open and vibrant place here where people can rise up and be -- we are such a vote an opening by replace your people can rise up. host: we're speaking to edwin feulner. if you like to join the conversation --
overall, t think americans have an optimistic or pessimistic outlook on the country and where it is headed? guest: some of the recent political polls show something like 60% of americans say their children and grandchildren will not do as well as they did. finally, i think the american people are looking not just to political leaders, but to local leaders, to religious leaders, to education leaders to say, hey, we can do more and be better. i have been an optimist for the whole 45 years i have been in washington. we can make things better. things can get better. i am optimistic and i think most americans are. when you think about what we're celebrating today, the rise of
individuals able to express themselves through their government system as opposed to being oppressed, the way it was before america came along. host: many set political partisanship is incredibly high right now. we look at polls, look at newspapers. how'd you think partisanship is playing into americans' feelings about their government, their leaders, and the country itself? guest: i think most americans have to take a step back and say, here is what my relationship to the government ought to be, here is what i could reasonably expect from government, and here's what i ought to be willing to contribute just having watched general berger from afghanistan and thinking about the 1,430,000 american men and women who were in uniform today, it kind of brings a chill down my spine thinking about what they're
doing for us. i think as a people we have to come together and have this great national debate that we're about to go into 124 days from now and say, this is the direction we want the country to go. the way the founders develop the constitution -- of course it is not supposed to be easy to change things. we want to have some gridlock, frankly. we want things to go through trial and error. we do not go for change for the sake of change. we have big challenges ahead, but fundamentally, optimistic, and looking to the future in getting americans back together the way we were right after 9/11 as a country. host: let's open up the conversation with edwin feulner, president of the heritage fund is nation. -- foundation. caller: good morning.
i am a professor of studies at wrote university. everything i've heard so far as far as the description of this country is so far off base. basically, you're just regurgitating [unintelligible] myths that are not true today and were not true in the first begun in the late 19th century. also, if you look at income inequality and the stagnation of wages, this is not the land of opportunity, at least not right now citizen. and your comment about people not being judged by the color of their skin? all you have to do is look at the flap over the immigration laws in arizona, the id suppression laws for voter id -- which goes against people of color. what i find at the heritage
foundation, it is nice free to tell these bedtime stories to folks, but it is just not true. host: can you get into detail about your first, 20 say you think this is a myth? whitey you think it is a or you say you can docaller: anything in this country if you just have the will and the mind to do it, that is a wonderful method. that happens occasionally. a lot of folks like to say, well, the exception proves the rule, but it does not. host: let's get a response. guest: susan, fundamentally, we see things differently. i see america as a glass that is half full plenty of opportunity for individuals, wherever they are in the social economic category, to move up and do
better. i see problems with income inequality and problems with government programs that do not work. i see problems with crony capitalism, frankly. that is why we talk about the need for rule of law, equality of treatment for everybody. we're not pollyannas lonely talk about what america can be. what we say is every day we should take another step on the road to make it closer to what that ideal is. are we there yet? no, but i believe we are finally moving in the right direction. i think both political parties and leaders should be positive about where we can be going in the future. that is what really makes america such a special place. host: independent caller, cape cod. caller: good morning. 10 or 12 years ago, it was
obvious bush was leading us down the road to war in iraq, the stupidest thing that has ever happened to us. i am tired of being negative. it is nice to be positive. adjustor the judgments that we are headed in the right direction. -- i just for the gentleman say we are headed in the right direction. sir, this country is broken because of a corrupt money grubbing political system. we need a third party. there is none on the horizon, because the needs money under the current system and rules, to become a viable party. we have voters that put gun- control or abortion or religion ahead of an honest and --
program for, like, president obama is trying to do but is prevented from doing by republican house. we're so an appropriately and stupidly, if i use that word -- but then the cats were thrown out in 2010. we are about to do the same thing. there is no reason, please, that mr. romney and mr. obama should be so close. host: let's get a response from edwin feulner. guest: again, we must have different views of what the future holds, of where we have come from and where we are. one of the things i have learned in my long time in washington is as you look at the political
dimension of washington, there are no permanent victories for either side. but there are no permanent defeats, either. ronald reagan once said we can trust the people. i guess that is why i go back to the process we have in place that lets the american people express their views. and to our friend in cape cod, i hope you are involved in terms of local municipal and state government but in massachusetts because that is the government closest to you -- but in massachusetts, because that is the government closest to you. there is an important senate race, a congressional race as well as the presidential race. there are checks and balances in the system so things do not happen quickly. they do not change quickly, but we do have the opportunity to really make a difference and get the country back on track, i think. >> edwin feulner is co author of "american spirit." he is the president of the
heritage foundation and joined as a founding trustee in 1973 and became president just four years later. he writes a weekly column you confined in dozens of newspapers and websites across the country. he was given the presidential citizens medal in 1989 by president ronald reagan. our last caller talked about the shift in the republican party he perceives. sounds like he was a supporter of reagan and lost interest in the republican party due to the iraq war. the thing conservatism has changed? do think the republican party has changed significantly in the last 30 years? guest: i think they're more divided along the ifill logical lines -- along the ideological lines. we make a very strong point that we are not partisan. we will work with anybody who agrees with us on any issue, and very much try to put together a
bipartisan groups. one of the neat things about being in the think tank business at heritage, we have grown to the point where we have 700,000 members around the country, which is extraordinary. 700,000 people who want to be directly involved in the battle of ideas in washington, not political elections, but in terms of policy politics. what happens after someone is elected. center for american progress on the left and others have the same kind of gross statistics they can talk about. the american people really i think are much more involved than ever before a host:. democratic caller, st. louis. happy fourth of july. what do you have to say with edwin feulner? caller: what did you say? host: turn down your tv. caller: why would anyone want to
vote for a person that is not truthful? that tells stories all the time or lies or whatever you want to college, and are always changing their mind about everything? i am talking about mr. romney. you know what i mean? i am a supporter of president obama. i think he is a wonderful person. host: we're having trouble hearing you because you are leaving their tv up. let's talk about mr. romney. guest: i see him as a strong candidate. in this day and age, with the kind of media scrutiny that is out there, with the opportunity for people to interact directly through c-span, twitter and facebook and the opportunity to always stay on top of what every candidate says to monitor virtually every words they say,
people on either side can claim, shame on the other guy, he does give us a misstatement. the american people i think are smart enough to figure out who is basically on the right track and basically on the wrong track. it is a complex time, but the scrutiny the american people are able to give their political leader is a much greater than ever before. i think that is good for democracy. host: we will be talking about the freedom of information act, celebrating the anniversary today. we will dig into that in a little while. your book is called "the american spirit." we have people on twitter about what they see as the american virtues and values. republican caller, larry, good morning. caller: i am calling in
reference to the lady that called in and was speaking with the judgment and said she was a professor from new jersey or whatever -- with the gentleman and said she was a professor from new jersey or whatever and saying the heritage foundation was like a fairy tale. i was wondering why she was not done in philadelphia this morning with her friends in the marching area down there? i am a retired vietnam veteran. the heritage foundation is an excellent foundation and a lot of other foundations that we have in this country, to give people the right to speak their piece, just like myself here. host: what march in philadelphia are you speaking about? caller: the march down there. the lady said she was a professor and she should have been at the march for her attitude. host: why don't you answer this, you talk about the heritage foundation, but what do you
think about the american spirit? caller: it has been kind of on the downgrade since vietnam. the hippie generation -- they are still alive and well, which you can tell. like i said, i spent time in the marine corps. to be able to downgrade their own countries perfectly all right, i guess. by the same token, we need to vet are professors a little more. host: national occupy gathering set july 4 in philadelphia. comment on the edwin feulner,.
guest: independence hall is such a national symbol that any notion that in a particular group would claim it for themselves for some small part of what america stands for, i think should be -- it belongs to all of us. we all ought to be go and celebrate what happened to hundred 36 years ago with the declaration of independence and the writing of the constitution -- 236 years ago with the declaration of independence and the writing of the constitution. we cannot debate about the occupy forces, and i would love to do that and we do do that from the at heritage, but the notion that somehow something so sacred to every american ought to be occupied is an asthma, to me. host: it looks like we have one dominant theme, "we're number one, we're number one."
the talks about america ranks seventh in literacy, 20 summit in science, 49th in life expectancy and so on. guest: we do have major challenges. we do our annual index of freedom. the united states has slipped from no. 4 among the 187 countries to no. 10 because of market regulation, higher taxes, making us less competitive around the world. clearly, our educational system is something that really needs major improvement, major work. that goes back to primary education. it goes not only to functional literacy and numeracy, it also means reminding our kids and grandkids what makes america great, reminding them the story of the founding of america and why this is such a special place.
history is very, very important. i hope our professor there from new jersey does in fact go back and talk about what happened in new jersey during the revolutionary war. we have so much to be proud of and, yes, we are number one in seven respects in terms of individual freedom. we got to give back to the rule of law. a lady called it or tweeted about generosity. the most generous country in the world in terms of not just private philanthropy, but spontaneous giving. just watching tv over the last few days with the storms and people voluntarily all putting their houses, bringing bags at the two others who need it because the refrigerators are out, because the power is out. that is the way american people are. we do not run down to a government office and say, give me a card so i can go get a government handout. we take care of each other. is what we ought to continue to be talking about. host: democratic caller,
florida. caller: good morning. how are you today? i want to express, i agree with a previous caller. however, i believe as a nation, as far as demonstration and fighting for more rights and individual believes that we have become very complacent. he spoke about the vietnam era. there were so many demonstrations and outright disdain for what was going on. in a sense, i believe because of that, perhaps the war did in sooner than we expected. it probably went on way too long. but we're looking at our economy, the price of gas -- although, it is getting better and around the nation as a
whole. i mean, people just do not stand up and boycott. talking about before the revolutionary war. as long as the individuals are the factions stood up and fought and did things like the boston tea party and during the industrial revolution, the women in the garment industry in new york city fighting for their rights. yes, there was loss of life for these individuals, but it always seems there are the few that have made the greatest difference here in our nation. host: thank you. guest: you are right. when you look at the heroic actions, you go through economic history, yes, people are willing to stand up and say what they believe in and fight for what
really is right. it is that optimistic spirit, but still a spirit of responsibility. these are the attributes we talk about inside our new book in terms of how they really can come to life again today. these are not battles just from history, but battles and opportunities that we should be looking for today as we move ahead. host: the book is called "american spirit." what are those virtues and values? guest: we list 20. the first one we start off talking about his patriotism. the pride we have in terms of being americans. we go on to that, freedom is central to what we as americans want. as we talked earlier, it is that blank slate that enables us to do whatever we can be because america is basically an idea, not just a location.
we can make things really better. individuality, responsibility for our own actions. we talk about a family that was wiped out because of the corruption, frankly, a bernie madoff. their employees and others lost everything because of investments they had made with bernie madoff while they scrimped and saved and figure out ways to make their employees whole. that is very much in the mode of what the american spirit really is about. that is what we should be talking about. it is good citizenship, honesty. as i said, the rule of law. it means everybody is treated equally. it means there is no chronic capitalism or one guy is given a favored over another. those are the kinds of basic principles that underlie and the american spirit and bring about american exceptionalism, too.
host: independent caller, charlotte. go ahead. caller: they said this is the land of the free. they tell you where you can smoke, what you can do. this is not the land of the free any more. our kids are going overseas, fighting battles that, you know, we should be fighting here. to take care of our elderly, to take care of the people that took care of the elderly, that it hurt. and they have to fight for disability. you know, just to take -- just to survive. guest: of course, there are individual cases where things could always be better here, but isn't that what really makes america such a very special place is that we have committed
the institutions that are churches, synagogues, places of worship can bring people together to solve problems in the community? every week, i write about 25 or 30 letters to young men who become eagle scouts. i think it is important congratulate them for what they have achieved and what they have managed to do in terms of rising above the average and pulling out some of those best things in the american spirit. it is the to celebrate what we believe in. that is what we do in our book, not just to be vain and pollyanna-ish, but to say we have much to be proud of and let's build toward that and toward a better future. host: louisiana, good morning. go ahead. caller: i would like to ask your
guest his interpretation of the constitution about the natural born citizen. host: and why is that relevant to you? caller: well, the way i read the constitution, is says in order to be president, you have to be a natural born citizen. that means to me that both parents have to be a citizen of the united states. but if you will see on obama's birth certificate, it says his father is a kenyan president. host: so you do not think he is qualified to be president? call: well, i won an
interpretation of the constitution. . host: let's asked edwin feulner what he thinks. guest: we of distributed more than 4 million copies of the constitution to americans all across the country so they can actually read the document and know what it says. what the constitution says is the president must be natural born, does not say his parents have to be natural born as well. we all know there is some controversy about this in terms of president obama's birth certificate from hawaii, but i think that is a little bit beyond the scope of the call or beyond what we're trying to emphasize in terms of the american spirit. i think the constitution is pretty clear on that issue. ayer to everyone to go back to the original document and see what it says. host: donald trump has called in the question the ability for president obama to be president
due to his birth. to question his american origins at all? guest: i am not one to get into that one. at heritage, we will argue about policy, politics. we will work with whoever is elected to whatever office. i will not side with donald trump or with others on either side on that question. host: democrat, california. hi, al. caller: good morning. i want to say my grandfather was the respected general of the cia 1951. he was pretty much one of our icons. [unintelligible] he and his friend, a famous lobbyist, basically were fascists. i was wondering if the heritage
foundation wednesday to the idea that fascist ideals these people had in the 1930's and 1950's have now been defined as conservative in the minds of millions of americans. guest: i sure hope not tommy corcoran, tommy the court, as he was down, would be hard to ever describe as a republican since she was one of the most prominent democrats in the city. at heritage, what we're trying to focus on and stay focused on, pending public policy issues across the whole range of subjects, whether it has to do with missile defense or foreign policy or welfare reform, medicare/medicaid tax policy. we're not going to go back and rebattle some of history's lessons. as a private citizen, i just did reading the herbert hoover book
of his diary, really, of world war ii, the ultimate revisionist history of world war ii. it is good and worth everybody considering, but what we're trying to do is get everybody back to basics to find that big area or we all agree what america should be, can be, and how we can work together to host:. edwin feulner you talk about printing out copies of the constitution. how important you feel it is americans know these documents and are we in touch with these documents. guest: it is absolutely essential that every american should know them read it is not such a bad idea to read the
declaration of independence to your entire family why you're sitting around enjoying a burger or whatever. these are what our freedom are based on brick is import to get back to basics, to remember what we are -- get back to the basics, to remember where we come from. five or six years after the issuance of the declaration of independence, said this is something that should be celebrated with bonfires and guns and call them eliminations -- in other words, fireworks -- from one end of the content to the other end because it is the start of a new era, the birth of a new freedom. host: a final tweet the -- --
response to his claim that young people especially, but americans in general, do not necessarily have skin in the game. guest: it is part of the problem but we have our index of dependency in which we talk about the number of americans who actually pay taxes, are in the productive sector -- the employed sector, if you will -- purses the people on the other side who are taking. that is a big issue. how the make sure that everyone has skin in the game? i do not want to go back to the draft. i think it was an unfair attack on a certain segment of the population. but back here, you talk about the generosity of the american spirit, good citizenship. so much can come aboard on it voluntary basis, and that is what should the time is to gather. host: what are you doing today to celebrate the fourth of july? guest: to be with family,
talking about how we're fortunate and what we have inherited. host: edwin feulner, president of the heritage foundation, co- author of a new book "the american spirit." thank you so much. coming next, john wonderlich. later, our week-long series looking of foreign news bureaus with voice of america. first, this news update from c- span radio. >> in geneva, switzerland, scientists working with the world's biggest atom smasher have claimed the discovery of a new subatomic particle. they're calling it "consistent with the long-sought higgs boson. this helps explain what it's all matter in the universe and size and shape the director of the european center for nuclear research says, we have found the
missing cornerstone of particle physics. scientific tests have found unusually high levels of the radioactive substance polonium 210 and some of the personal effects of the lake palace in leader yasser arafat. one of the scientists involved in the study said the results do not mean that he suffered radiation poisoning. the palestinian authority says it has no objection to having yasser arafat's body exhumed and tested if his family approves. there's been another deadly attack on the local marketplace in iraq. police say a car bomb in a southern iraqi town has killed at least eight people and wounded nearly 30. today's blast was similar to two other strikes on markets on tuesday in which 40 people were killed. the european union says technical talks with iranian and international experts have wrapped up with an exchange of
information on ways to end the standoff over tehran post of their program. the talks will be followed by a meeting between iran's #2 nuclear negotiator and the eu official in charge of the talks. no date announced yet. some of the latest headlines on c-span radio. >> this weekend, had to the state capital named in honor of thomas to a person with book tv and american history tv in jefferson city, missouri. saturday and noon eastern, literary life with book tv on c- span2. family life inside the governor's mansion from her book "if walls could talk." also, a provision slipped from university of virginia special collections, the stories behind eight miniature babylonian clay tablets. sunday at 5:00 p.m. eastern -- >> at one time in 1967, this was called the bloodiest 47
acres in america. >> a former warden takes you to the state penitentiary. once a month, si spam's local content vehicles explore the literary life of cities across america. this weekend from jefferson city, saturday at noon and sunday at 5:00 eastern on c- span2 and c-span3. "washington journal" continues. host: john wonderlich is policy director of the sun life foundation. we're here to talk about the anniversary of the freedom of information act, foia. guest: it is an absolutely bedrock for accountability and democracy and basically says the citizens of the united states have a right to get access to any information the government has and basically says we only information the
government has and can get access by requesting it. host: tells the history of it, when it started. guest: it was first passed in 1966 and has been revised and number of times since then. it was not until the 1970's it became more effective. it has been revised every decade or so since then. it is the subject of a lot of debate and legislation right now. despite all the difficulty and complexity in keeping a strong and effective freedom of information act, it is the source of tons of an important journalism and oversight. host: how has it changed over the years? at what times has it been the most free and when has it been more constricted? guest: the most constricted was first passed because it was so new and people did not know how to use it. there is a signing statement that restricted how effective it could be. it was really after watergate
became much more effective. it has been restricted over national security issues or expanded to take advantage of better technology, electronic records. we see a lot more fights and legislation try to restrict foia. it is certainly an ongoing source of contention. host: it pertains to federal documents and information, so what if someone is looking for state or local level information? guest: we're lucky that in the u.s., every state since the passage of the federal you caniofreedom of information submit a request to your state and get the request fulfilled. host: here's the foia number of received in fiscal 2011. 640,000 credit the following year, 597,000.
i'm sorry, the previous year. a growth in 2011. going back to 2009, 558,000. so increase over the time. is there a reason for that? guest: that is a good question. to some degree, a lot of requests are by corporations making requests for business purposes, but also any number of reasons that different types of activism could cause a surge of request or scandals. it is pretty difficult. i'm not sure who would be responsible. host: give us an example of how a journalist or citizen would use the freedom of information act. guest: i like the members of congress like to say they're against pork-barrel spending and many journalists have submitted foia requests a federal agencies and say, please, released to me a copy of all the correspondence that members of congress have said to your agency where they
make the spending request. and often takes a little time, but what they get back are members of congress that say their anti spending will also submit one request after another sign, please spend money in my district. it makes for a great request. -- it makes for great story. we would not know without the information.ffirmatio it is generally free and you are free to ricand the request. host: how you do so? guest: you write a letter. it can seem daunting, but if you do a google search for a foia request, there are a number of fantastic guides to walking to the process. every agency will have a web page devoted to explaining how to make foia and
pointers. host: john wonderlich with the sun life foundation but let's go to the funds and year from john, a democrat in providence, rhode island. caller: good morning. what is the ultimate value of someone once they write this letter and get the information they're looking for? what does it do in terms of -- for a change to take place. once you find out the information, how do go about making change to correct the issue you are looking for? also, this is not directly at the gentleman here from the freedom of affirmation act, but to the host to actually allow the last guest you had to not agree or disagree the president was born in hawaii. i found that of sir that you allowed him to get away with saying that and i would like
your comment on that as well. thank you. host: i will take the last part of that. we ask the question of edwin feulner of whether not he supported donald trump's believe that or claim that president obama and unqualified to be the president to this is addition to -- citizenship issue. he declined to go with either side. you can take that for what it is worth, but we're not here to put words in anyone's mouth. we like to let our guests speak for themselves. john wonderlich? host: sometimes explaining which you got is enough because you discover something scandalous. in california, some of the public servants were getting paid $600,000 a year or something ludicrous for a city employee, and those revelations were enough to cause enormous changes happen quickly. sometimes what you find out is a
lot more tricky and complicated. the question is, how do cause a change in a democratic society? sometimes it is really hard, is the answer. but in order for us that popular sovereignty, it is the fourth of july and the idea is where the have self-determination. the first up is understanding what your government is doing. host: flint, michigan, independent line. caller: good morning. i applied for my own individual freedom of information act and i was denied. excuse me, i did not follow up. host: what information we looking for and who did you ask the information? caller: i used the request form
and i got the number they give you and everything. it took them about eight months to deny me. excuse me. manley, they deny me on some medical information and i do not know what medical information there were keeping from it, because as my own individual -- host: who are you asking question requisite the federal government? the state? caller: yes, the department of justice, the fbi. guest: despite the freedom of information act's importance, it does back guarantee you'll get a result yoryour request. there are exemptions so we can protect information that really should not be public. i do not know what your request was in this case, but it could be that sometimes a request is not narrow enough or sometimes
it is described in a way they cannot find the right type of documents. sometimes cementing a successful foia is a matter of sitting multiple requests and refining it over time or talking to the agency about which you want and figuring out how to submit a better request. sometimes you have to sue to get the permission. host: john wonderlich, what are some of the exemptions? you may get the document, but areas may be blacked out. how does a federal agency decide what it in turnover, what it has a takeout, and what cannot give the at all? guest: the exemptions are defined by law and the freedom of information act and are specifically defined for things like internal personnel issues within an agency or commercial and trade secrets the government may have access to. the ongoing investigations that have to do with the police, any
kind of national security issue if it can cause harm to the nation's security then it will not be disclosed. there are exemptions specifically carved out for will wells, which always struck me as a strange exemption. there specifically laid out by law and professionals within each agency that are trained and have to follow the law would decide what to release and what not to. host: going to the website, foia.gov we see a backlog of requests. how does that happen and how long does it take? guest: there are requirements the agency has respond within 20 days. that means is into a letter that says, we got your request and are working on it. you get that letter indefinitely
for some kinds of requests. the backlog is the requests that have never been answered or finally dealt with. that happens because maybe the agency does not want to do with them or they lack resources to get through all the back of requests. there are a number of different causes. there is a problem with it and we would like to see a solution. host: long island, new york. caller: i think you just answer part of my question. if i as a private citizen petitioned say attorney general holder for the documents fast and furious, could i have a better shot at getting them? it is a tongue-in-cheek question, but how much t foia does have? iis it only a paper tiger? host: have you ever filed foia?
caller: no, i have not. guest: you're absolutely free to submit a request to the department of justice asking for whatever documents you want. the president claimed executive privilege before congress and basically said because i am president, we're not going to give this to you because it pertains to my prerogative. that means those particular documents they're very unlikely to release as a result as a foia request. foia means you do not have to trust the executive branch to make a decision about what gets released. if they refuse to release something and you disagree with their justifications, you can see them. it sounds a litigious, but it means you can take one branch of government and all the other branch of government accountable by pitting them against each other through a freedom of information act lawsuit. what we saw with the contempt vote was congress vs. the
presidency. the courts have not really been involved. the question is, what would happen if the courts were to litigate a foia request about the same documents? host: myrtle beach, south carolina, independent line. caller: i have a two-part question. one is, i would like to find out what exactly through a county municipality if you're trying to get information from a police agency, what would be the procedure to do that? and number two, i have been involved in a probate situation and it is very litigious. it has gone on for five years. it is in -- and self carolina, in his private when the trust is involved. what are my chances if i'm trying to get information about a judge and their rulings before hand, if you know, in an administrative law judge? guest: generally, the judicial
branch is exempted from the freedom of information act, just like legislation is. i'm not sure, but i would assume they are exempt. it would vary from state to state. to find out how your state's freedom of information act works, iact works, i would search for freedom of the press. they have a fantastic state-by- state guide to how the open record loss of work. that would be a great first up. host: is a question -- guest: the requests are generally free. if you are doing something that involves reproducing lots of records or if it will take an agency putting 15 staffers on it to go to a record, they will often charge people for it. how much they charge can be contentious and something that people argue over. there is something called a fee
waiver. if he were a journalist or if you have a public interest reason for requesting information, you can get them to waive the fee they would charge you. it can cost money in a with it gets complicated. host: second part of the question -- tell us about the fishing process. how do you figure out where to start? guest: question. lots of careers are defined by the ability to work on this. you have to be able to request a document that exists. that does not mean you have to know the name of the document and where it is. you can say, i would like all the mills received by the following officials within an agency within the following
dates that have to do with a certain topic. that is the specific enough that they have to answer the question. the finding a narrow enough request can be really tricky. -- defining a narrow enough request can be really tricky. host: john wonderlich, we are talking about the 45th anniversary of foia. michael joins us from ohio. good morning. caller: good morning. i work in ohio. i am a virginia patient. -- va patient. my request was basically ignored. they continued to ignore it. they did not even acknowledge me. there is a record of it. they simply pretend that it does not exist.
as a regular worker, what are my chances of filing and getting any kind of a response? host: were you asking for personal information or were you asking a question about systems? caller: i was asking for something terribly simple. i was up for a treatment. there was a policy manual on that. i want to say, this is what's supposed to happen -- was supposed to happen and it did not. this was over a year ago. they had it been ignoring it. it was like, how dare you bother us. guest: that sounds to me like a classic situation where foia would be inappropriate thing. if you know that a manual exists that defines a procedure. that stuns something that would
be answerable. i would consider talking to people who deal with freedom of information and advocacy. google around and look for foia advocacy. find other people who deal with foia requests. there is something called the office of government information services. it is a new office within the national archives. they are there to help the advocates for the public and to help the foia process work better. that is another possible face to look for. host: here is a question on twitter -- guest: foia takes a significant investment. host: it is in every agency? who deals with the request? guest: someone within the foia
office. there are people dedicated to filling these requests that every agency. that is a lot of staff. a lot of time we spend on it. if you look at the value that having the freedom of information act brings, it is hard to doubt the role. it would be more expensive to not have the foia. the kind of stuff that would happen if we did not have it would cost us more. host: florida. welcome. caller: thank you for the voice. i would like to state that the working man that is asking the question is asking something about something that could possibly be a voice from the canary in the coal mine.
currently, there is a situation that deals with 40 years ago in vietnam with the way things were handled. there was no information available. you just did what you were told. now, we are dealing with a new cancer from agent orange. it is time to find out why. guest: one of my favorite organizations to work with this call the national security archives. they are non-profit. they have two main ways they work. they submit freedom of information request and they require information that was once classified to be declassified to review process that happen. basically, they are able to get bought and lots of information about what has happened through
military exercises or national security into the public the main. that is a great source for information like the kinds of things you are talking about. check out the national security archives. host: john wonderlich spearheads the goal of changing the government by opening up xie data sources and information and making it more accountable to citizens. he works on issues of transparency from legislation in congress to ethics issues to information in the executive branch. mark is our next caller. independent line. michigan. good morning. caller: good morning, c-span. happy fourth of july, america. it is hard to understand your name. host: john wonderlich. caller: it was about a natural born citizen. i was born in germany on an american air force base.
that does not make me german. you have to have two parents to be a national born citizen. host: our last guest dispel that myth. the conservative director of the heritage foundation told us that in the constitution, that is not what it says. you have to be born in america to be considered an american citizen. but god to peter in los angeles, california. caller: hello. how are you? host: good. how are you? caller: freedom of information act, at what . will it kick in. it seems to me that the american people will never learn about what documents will have.
guest: the freedom of information act is always an effect. records having to do with the assassination are among the most requested and most saw after. more relevant is whether there are other additional documents that have been classified that will become declassified in the future that you could access to the national archives. i deal with those questions. when you look at finding new information, the declassification process is more likely to show was something new about that. host: matt says -- guest: that is a great question. there are lots of ways that
foia needs to change. one of them is is possible for the process of submitting requests and getting responses to be much more efficient. if you look in england and the u.k., they have a website called what do they know. any citizen can submit a request to the website and the e-mail and send it directly to the right government representative and when they sent back a response, it is public and on the internet. there is some effort in the u.s. to build a similar system outside the government and within the government. that is one way it could change for the better. there are other amendments that would be reasonable ways to improve how this works. to do with those exceptions, which are often abused and used as ways to withhold information. host: but here from new york, new york. democrats' line. good morning. caller: my question for your guest is i have some documents that my grandfather had
requested about himself through the freedom of information act from the cia. spanning from the 50's to the 70's. he has since passed away. i have possession of them. what i am wondering about is they're heavily redacted. if i were to request those same documents now, it has been 20 or 30 years, would they be as heavily redacted? guest: so, two points. one is that getting documents at different kinds through -- of different kinds will result in different levels of protection. if two agencies have the same memo, sometimes you get different pieces redacted from each one. that is a great way to get around it. the other . he is that there are confusions about privacy dax is that there point
privacy actns aboabout request. host: when we talk about foia and the way it has changed, how does that relate to e-mails? can you request e-mails that a person has sent or received? what about texts? guest: it does apply to digital records and e-mails. often, some of the juiciest conversations that are relevant to the questions of political power happen over e-mail. back-and-forth throughout the day, there are a ton of records. imagine all the things we could know if we could look through them. that is a fruitful place for foia requests. when you look at things like records, there are fights over whether public record laws should apply to a text messages or other electronic messages. the state of utah had a huge
fight about this question were they tried to restrict their freedom of information laws and say it does not count if it is on your personal phone. they are trying to draw restrictive lines around the foia. if the foia is not apply to anything were official work is being done, it does not work because the real interesting conversations will end up happening just past whatever you can get through the foia. it is important to protect freedom of information laws. host: we saw governor sarah palin using a personal e-mail account the same that to be exempted from requests for information. how are the courts or entities dealing with what is considered to be personal versus private? guest: there are a lot of different questions wrapped up in this question of using your private e-mail for official work. veteran not happen, especially for governor.
it is also rather than questions of record retention. if someone commits a foia request and you do not want someone to get that, destroy their records. that is something romney did when he left as governor. destroyed the records he had from his time as governor. that is kind of shocking. in most states, it is illegal. there are a lot of questions wrapped up in what can a foia reach. what has to be preserved by law because of record management laws? there are questions that if there is a lawsuit, what kind of things can be subpoenaed? each of those lines is different. host: thank you so much. john wonderlich polis, the director of the summit foundation talking about freedom of information act. thank you. coming up next, we continue our week-long series looking at foreign news operations in the u.s. u.s. we have a twist on that with